Marci Kwon specializes in the art and culture of the United States. Her research and teaching interests include the intersection of fine art and vernacular practice, theories of modernism, cultural exchange between Asia and the Americas, "folk" and "self-taught" art, and issues of race and objecthood. Her current book project, Enchantments: The Art of Joseph Cornell, explores the enchanted valences of Cornell’s protean artistic practice, showing how his use of formal strategies such as montage, scale, performance, and ephemerality allowed his work to transcend their modest material origins. More broadly, the project uses Cornell’s artistic career and wide circle of acquaintances as a lens through which to view modernism’s engagement with enchantment from the 1920s to the 1960s, in episodes including the transatlantic migration of Symbolism, Surrealism, ballet, and Neo-Romanticism; the renewed interest in folk art; the emergence of New York School poetry and avant-garde cinema; and the turn to vernacular materials by artists associated with the counterculture.
Additional articles address Isamu Noguchi, Appalachian Springand Japanese internment (forthcoming, Modernism/modernity Print Plus), amateurism and folk art at the Museum of Modern Art (forthcoming, MoMA: The First Twenty Years) , and photography and Cantonese opera in San Francisco Chinatown. She is also working on a book-length study of the intersections of art and anthropology in American modernism.
Kwon is the recipient of the University of Pennsylvania's 2016 Zuckerman Prize, awarded to the best dissertation in American art/culture and history, and her research has been supported by grants from the ACLS/Luce Foundation, the Getty Research Institute, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Mellon Foundation, and the Hellman Fellows Fund. She has also held positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, and is currently a fellow at Yale's Center for the Study of Material & Visual Cultures of Religion. In 2016, she spearheaded the Association of Critical Race Art HIstory's bibliographic and reading group initiative (https://acrah.org/bibliographies). At Stanford, Kwon is a faculty affiliate of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Asian American Studies, American Studies, and Modern Thought and Literature.
Asian American Art, 1850-Present
Migration and Diaspora in American Art